Woodland’s Democratic Party organization and Chamber of Commerce are both swiftly reacting to the recent decision of the Woodland City Council to place a tax item at the primary election.

___  Woodland Democrats Immediately Endorse Sales Tax Increase  ___

Only about an hour had elapsed — since Woodland City Council unanimously acted on February 9, to place a measure on the June ballot for a quarter-cent increase in municipal sales tax — when the Woodland Area Democratic (Party) Club unanimously voted to make voter adoption of this measure its political “priority.”

Outgoing Democratic Club President, Leslie Marcus, indicates that she will provide the Club with a list of all registered voters at the previous four major elections, who are affiliated with the Democratic Party or are registered as Decline To State voters.

Marcus says there are about 13,000 voters so registered in Woodland.

The Democratic Club has between 40 and 50 active members who would potentially volunteer to forge a — phone-bank operation — supporting this tax measure, which will be accompanied by three ballot advisory measures related to use of funds created by the measure (public safety: 40%, library: 30%, parks and recreation: 30%).

The Democratic Club fielded more than 150 local volunteers during the November 2008 General Election campaign, according to Marcus.

“Our goal is to contact and re-contact every potential Democratic and Decline To State voter in Woodland, between now and June 8, providing them with the information they need to fully understand this subject and encouraging their supportive vote,” describes Marcus.

___  Chamber Of Commerce Takes Up Topic Of Local Tax Hike  ___

The Business Issues Committee of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce met on February 16 and considered the proposed tax increase, after listening to a detailed presentation on this subject by Woodland City Manager Mark Deven.

Woodland Mayor Skip Davies and Council Member Bill Marble also spoke to the committee on this matter, as did Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad.

After hearing from Deven and the council members, the Business Issues Committee decided to form a new “task force” (related to, but distinct from its current: city budget task force) to carefully examine and evaluate this newly proposed, four-year hike in local sales tax.

Marcus also attended this chamber committee meeting, expressing the local Democratic Club’s “priority” status for this subject, as well as its intention to provide strong and reliable support for ballot adoption during the campaign leading to the June election.

Marcus suggested, as well, that in the community interest — the local Republican Party organization might want to do likewise.

Incoming Woodland Chamber of Commerce President, Jim Hilliard, emphasizes that he intends a comprehensive understanding to be achieved by the Chamber regarding this topic.

___  Worsening Municipal Fiscal Condition  ___

Deven revealed during this committee meeting that recently updated municipal revenue forecasts have now raised the expected (2010-11) budget deficit for Woodland  — to about $4.3 million.

This figure is up another $1 million or so, from Deven’s staff report to city council of last week.

In addition, mid-year fiscal adjustments impel slashing $2.12 million from an already budgeted $10.7 million or so, remaining in 2009-10.

Woodland’s budget has dropped from around $48 million to about $35 million during the last two fiscal cycles.

Deven will be preparing — two separate municipal budget proposals — to account for either eventuality regarding the slated sales tax measure. It appears that the budget proposal — without a sales tax increase — will be used to help incline / motivate voters toward its adoption in June.

Despite city council trepidation, Deven emphasizes that the city’s worsening fiscal condition will make inevitable significant staff layoffs — which would be somewhat mitigated if voters approve the proposed sales tax measure.

This sales tax increase is estimated to produce an annual revenue stream of about $2 million ($7.5 million over its full four years), but just $1.5 million in the initial budget cycle due to a regular lag in implementation.

Thus, around $2.8 million still must be cut from Woodland’s next (2010-11) budget — even with voter approval of this rise in sales tax.

___  City Hall Improvements From Measure E To Be Dropped  ___

Sales tax receipts have declined to the extent that revenue projections for the already approved 2006-18, half-cent rise sales tax for local capital improvements, Measure E, have been revised dramatically downward — from around $68 million to $46 million — over its 12 year term.

Davies relates that Measure E’s application to (once) planned renovation / relocation of city hall has effectively fallen away. This specific use was identified as the lowest priority of voters during its adoption in 2006.

Measure E was passed as an extension of former Measure H, which greatly suffered from post-9/11 economic distress.

The four-year, quarter-cent rise in sales tax to be included on the June ballot is intended to fund — operational functions — of the city, being reflected within its associated advisory measures, as contrasted with the capital improvement agenda of Measure E.